But, it wasn't until 1996 that I started writing my
personal zine, Thought Bombs, which I've now written
sixteen of. I've written several other sort of theme zines
on racism and the prisons for conferences or
presentations I gave, plus tons of essays. I've
contributed and editted many, many zines and have
worked with some very good writers, most of whom are
prisoners. I've put together catalogs describing each
zine in detail, put up a website and make a point to make
all my zines free to prisoners. It's a very expensive,
work-intensive, stressful as hell project!
I've done all this with next to no help from anybody,
zero grant money, several other activist projects, such as
STAND (Shut This Airport Nightmare Down) amidst a
very busy family life. For, I believe this system deserves
nothing less than a full-blown commitment to rebellion!
And this literary and activist project seems to be the best
outlet for me, based on my abilities, circumstances and
temperament. Plus, I see a crying need for this type of
advocacy. It takes total concentration and dedication,
but luckily I have motivation to burn and I don't have a
lazy bone in my body.
I've broken my distro into four main categories 1)
anarchism 2) feminism 3) anti-racism/abolitionism & 4)
prisoner zines. I would say over 1/2 of them are prisoner
Let me show you some of them from each category.
First and foremost is my own zine, Thought Bombs.
These are wild collections of essays, rants, letters,
poems, graphics and contact information. My son,
Stanton, who is now twelve, draws all the cover art and
usually a few pages inside each issue. My little guy,
Stephen, who is six, has started to contribute his
I melt the personal in with the political in these. They
sort of chronicle my life and thinking as an activist and as
a husband and father.
South Chicago ABC Zine Distro
Greetings, folks! First, I'd like to explain what this is
all about. An ABC - Anarchist Black Cross - is an
anarchist-fueled prisoner support group. The first one
was started in Russia during the revolution of 1905 to
support anarchist prisoners held captive in the Tsar's
dungeons. ABC's dot the country and the world, mostly
throughout Europe, America and Canada. We also work
in solidarity with non-anarchist political prisoners,
politicized prisoners and social prisoners. Personally, I
think all prisoners are political because the dass-based
institution of incarceration is political. It's the
punishment industry of U. S. - headquartered capitalism.
Zines are self-published works without bar codes,
slick covers, which aren't beholden to advertisers,
mainstream publishers or distributors - the real zines!
They are not subject to censorship of any kind, which is
why the gulag mailroom censor trolls hate them so
much! They are usually free or very cheap. They are
what the samizdat press was to the Soviet Union, for the
people of the extreme capitalism of the West, only much
more so. They are a vitaUink of information about what
is really going on in this world that the mainstream
totally ignores. There are thousands and thousands of
zines on any subject imaginable. But the best ones, In
my opinion, are very political and revolutionary. Thomas
Paine's Common Sense and Henry David Thoreau's Civil
Disobedience were the zines of their day.
A distro provides zines to people who want them,
mostly through the mail, but also online. I deal in paper
zines exclusively. Not everyone has computer access, in
fact very few really do and almost zero prisoners do! You
can't read an e-zine on the bus or at work! Here's a zine
that lists hundreds of zine distributors throughout the
My distro, South Chicago ABC Zine Distro now has
about 225 different zines available and I'm adding new
ones all the time. These are pointedly political, many of
which I write myself, edit or otherwise contribute to. I
sort of specialize in helping articulate prisoners conceive,
format, edit, publish and distribute their work into zine
Now. Why do I do this? Well, like the Beatles once
said, "The world is a bad place, a bad place, a terrible
place to live." For many many hundreds of millions of
people this is absolutely true, in the immediate physical
sense. For everybody else, it's terrible because we are
being forced into a truncated, sinisterly motivated reality,
whether it is anywhere near fully understood by us or
Once I was able to overcome my own self-hatred and
fear of Big Brother to a certain degree, I felt it was my
responsibility as a citizen of this Earth to give forth my
testimony, as I've made it a point to be extremely
observant to political reality all during my lifetime. I was
very fortunate to have a very conscious, political
upbringing. Hopefully, as my writing and editting
improves, these efforts will increasingly educate,
motivate, empower and inspire people to attempt to
attain their own self-realization and work for social
Another practical reason to launch this distro is that
prisons insist literature must be sent from the publisher
for prisoners to receive them, so I became the publisher
myself. And, I make it a point to provide literature by
and for prisoners that they want, can use and share with
their cohorts. Also, I was not satisfied with the level of
rebellion being voiced by others and felt I could do
better, because I also want to read something seriously
powerful and well written, even if I must write it, myself!
I never claimed to be a self-deprecating say nothing! I
feel what I have to say is of extreme importance.
Permit me to recite a couple of quotes about this
society of ours.
hundreds of these human warehouses all over this
What an affront to life and living creatures! There is
more dire U.S - orchestrated evil in this world, such as
the massive infanticide being unleashed on the children
of Iraq, for example. But as far as complex,
systematized, daily, massive, governmental criminality,
the U.S. gulag system is right up there.
This is a class-based punishment industry, where
everything evil about the system - racism, sexism,
homophobia, xenophobia, torture, isolation, medical
neglect and experimentation, forced obedience to fascist
bureaucracy, ritual murder and all-around- injustice,
predation and corruption, etc. etc. is magnified, yet
hidden from the public eye.
That is why I concentrate on getting the word out of
there, because you're sure as hell not going to read
about it in the mainstream rags. The government wants
this information suppressed and every prison censors all
incoming and some outgoing mail and often denies my
publications entry, ala Hitler's Germany. Freedom of the
press is a big fat lie! The U.S. Nazis make Hitler look like
a Vienna choirboy!
But, my distro isn't just about the prisons. I started
writing about growing up in the racist south Chicago
suburbs, the Vietnam War, the sexual suppression and
sexism, the "generation gap," music, the Civil Rights
Movement - all kinds of things. I wrote my first zine,
Peoples' Polar Express in 1974, after dropping out of
college and hitchhiking around the country for a couple of
years, in the wake of Nixon's second not-too-secret
invasion of Cambodia, when all the colleges and
universities went out on strike. I just stayed on strike!
M'G ZttfE V/SfJIO
P.O.Box 731 Homewood, IL60U30
And n - sad sacks watchin' this stuff, lead virtual lives of
voyei ism because their real lives are atomized,
compartmentalized daily treks of lifelong agony, where
truth, beauty, honesty and hope are all a sick mockery.
It's where people settle for one or usually more various
addictions, such as gambling, porno, drugs, food, the
idiot box, compulsive criminality or whatever, in a vain
attempt to avoid dealing with the brutal realities of this
world and their lives.
To some people, that is just not good enough, but
rather thoroughly and totally revolting! Boy, "some
What are some of our other wonderful institutions?
How about our military, which degrades and humiliates
recruits into blind obedience. The School of Assassins
teaches foreign thugs the fine art of torture and murder
of th< citizens to keep their rich comfortable and U.S.
corporations dominant. The massive, deadly U. S.
hardware threatens the whole planet with any minute
annihilation! A lot of these military men who've gone
overseas and committed sanctioned by the U.S.
go. ument - murder! - in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, El
Salvador, Africa, Asia, South America, etc. come home
and get jobs on police forces, corporations and prisons
where they can get paid further for their institutional
sadism. They're our "heroes!"
The tax mar> takes 1/3 of what's left of a paycheck,
after the employers have taken their do-nothing rip-off
cut. The police selectively enforce the rich-lawyer written
laws. The cesspool of the political system, the welfare
agencies who snatch the children of those kidnapped for
incarnation, the housing "authorities" with their
corrui , rathole vertical prisons... all are very vile and
cosmically and morally most unacceptable.
But the worst of all the systems - at least
domestically - is the judicial system, with its unsavory,
although human-like lawyers, judges, prosecutors and
prisonkrats and the massive system of decades-long
caging and brutalizatlon of human beings. There are
"What is the existence of the average man today?
Almost all your time is given to earning your livelihood.
You are so busy making a living that you hardly have
time left to live, to enjoy life. Neither the time nor the
money. You are lucky if you have some source of
support, some job. Now and then comes slacktime:
there is unemployment and thousands are thrown out of
work, every year, in every country.
That means no income, no wages. It results in worry
and privation, in disease, desperation and suicide. It
spells poverty and crime. To alleviate that poverty we
build homes of charity, poorhouses, free hospitals, all of
which you support with your taxes. To prevent crime
and to punish criminals it is again you who have to
support police, detectives, State forces, judges, lawyers,
prison keepers. Can you imagine anything more
senseless and impractical? The legislatures pass laws,
the judges interpret them, the various officials execute
them, the police track and arrest the criminal, and finally
the prison warden gets him into custody. Numerous
persons and institutions are busy keeping the jobless
man from stealing and punish him if he tries to. Then he
is provided with the means of existence, the lack of
which has made him break the law in the first place...
Crime is the result of economic conditions, of social
inequality, of wrongs and evils of which government and
monopoly are the parents. Government and law can only
punish the criminal. They neither cure nor prevent
crime. The only real cure for crime is to abolish its
causes, and this the government can never do because it
is there to preserve those very causes. "
That as you probably recognize, is Alexander
Berkman. See if you can guess who said this.
"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is
Johann Most or Enrico Malatesta perhaps? Try George
Let's take a quick look around us at what is
happening today. We've got two million prisoners in this
country, many hundreds of thousands of which are in
prison for possession of pot! The incarceration industry -
the punishment industry - is a wildly profitable multi-
headed hydra of profit-taking. It's raw capitalism whose
product is human misery! Each inmate has a price tag
on him or her, which explains why parole is no longer an
option. It's modern day slavery, pure and simple!
Our lives are controlled by coercive institutions, so
seamlessly and completely that many don't even
question or know it and if they do, think they are better
off because of it - even people already in prison! Most
people enjoy the comforts of their cage. v
You have the miserable schools that teach kids how
futile it is to think for themselves. All they feel
comfortable caring about is the clothes and games they
think they want! Reality is too frightening to deal with.
Thankfully, growing numbers of them are beginning to
realize that if they don't fight for their lives, they won't
have one! As they get oldei>they must enter the
seething workplaces with the danger, alienation, pollution
and wage-slave subsistence. It's not a life but a lived
On Sunday, you go to the churches to get a dose of
shame and pious patriarchal pie-in-the-sky nonsense!
I'm no Christian, but even Jesus Christ was a tortured,
wrongly accused, deathrow inmate who was killed for his
beliefs by the dominant government of his day. Rome
then, The U.S. today!
We do have our false culture based on buying, the
malls, the endless cars and trucks, the canned scripted
and laughed at shows, the violence glorying movies with
all their phony sex. The mainstream media are basically
forums for advertisers and think tank churned out pundit
apologists for corporations, shameless, mainstream
political wonks! They offer nothing new! The "news" is
unanalyzed, superficial daily factoids!
Then there's the nauceous corporate farms with their
gene-altered frankenfoods and the profit-making horrors
reserved for the animals who are bred in excruciating
confinement, only to be murdered and butchered,
stripped of their pelts and packaged to be eaten. But
you can go to jail for "cruelty to animals!" Justice and
morality worship at the alter of profit.
The drug industry is another abomination, causing the
deaths by experimentation of millions of animals to keep
people zombified and "functional" in this sick society,
with a hideous assortment of psychtropic drugs. Two
million children are on ritalin - speed - to "calm" them!
Some whose behavior is being controlled are as young as
six months!! Yet you can go to prison for decades for
smoking a joint! The Soviet Nurse Ratchet's had nothing
on us! Who are the brain police???
The world itself is dying! Even mainstream ecologists
give us what? Twenty years? You could drive a trillion
Mack Trucks through the ozone hole! Earthquakes,
famine, mudslides, forest fires, genocide, tidal waves,
nuclear waste, global warming, species extinctions, the
choking off of our lungs - the rain forests - and all the
other forests... the plutoniumization of space - are all
slowly accelerating! We can't just up and leave and
move to Mars or the Moon because people are fragile and
delicate and will die anywhere except a healthy Earth!
Ah, but who cares? I've got tickets to a ballgame and
those kids out in the streets deserve to be clubbed like
baby harp seals by the Darth Vader goon squads for
bringing up such unpleasantries! Right? How dare those
"rioters" clamor for a future than celebrates and includes
You know society is like a porno flick. You've got
these hot babes ever eager to perform sex acts on men.
What they don't show you is the fact that the whole thing
is a degrading profit-making mafioso meat market, and
the women came or were hustled up as lonely 18 year
olds, overwhelmingly victims of lifelong sexual abuse!